“Don’t fall in love with me.”
I remember speaking those words to someone when I was just entering adulthood.
I don’t know if I heard them in a movie, or if they came from my own head, but I remember feeling very wise and very womanly as I delivered the line.
I meant it sincerely, too. I was protecting him. I wouldn’t stay, so why should he waste his affection on so unstable an object?
What was the point of love, if it served no purpose—neither sustaining a relationship nor cementing a lasting bond?
I didn’t want the responsibility of being loved, either. The obligation I believed such a gift carried felt heavy.
However, I have since changed my views.
Love can be an end unto itself; it can be its own greater purpose. It is not limited to commitment, romance or heaviness.
Love is not the beginning; it is not the end. It is worthwhile because it creates meaning wherever we place it.
What’s more, another person’s love is not our burden to carry; it is rather a gift to receive with humility, gratitude and respect.
To offer love, without expectation of return?
That is the ultimate expression of vulnerability and selflessness. A lesson I am still learning.
I would not tell someone today not to fall in love with me. I would not be afraid of that gift, nor would I scorn it.
So go ahead, fall in love with me. Grow with me, learn with me and explore with me—and through me.
And I will fall in love, too.
No, that’s not it. I will love. Actively. Intentionally. Dare I say consciously.
So go ahead, fall in love with her. Fall in love with him. Fall in love with them.
Don’t wait for permission. Don’t wait for it to be safe.
Don’t fall, for that matter.
Without beginning. Without end.
Because it brings meaning wherever we place it, and there is always more.
Without fear. Without expectation of return.
Because you are brave, and we are too wise to keep something so precious to ourselves.
Author: Toby Israel
Image: Author’s Own